Inspired by the humble beginnings of Airbnb, the founders of dockaboat are providing a solution to the lack of docking spaces in the boating industry. We caught up with Joanna Martel and Daniela Medina to hear about their big plans for the business and their straightforward advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
How did you come up with the idea for the business?
The idea for dockaboat started while we were operating a boat charter service as a side business. We quickly noticed a critical issue: the severe lack of available docking spaces. With marinas often having waitlists stretching up to nine years and the available ones charging steep rates, we recognised a pressing need.
Spotting numerous private docks lying unused sparked our 'aha!' moment – these could be utilised to alleviate the docking space shortage, benefiting both dock and boat owners. That's where our business idea took root.
Why does the industry need the solution you're providing?
Our solution tackles two big issues in the boating industry: the underutilisation of private docks and the challenge boaters face in finding affordable docking. With dockaboat, dock owners can rent out their spaces, earning extra cash, while boaters get access to more budget-friendly docking options and on top of that we provide insurance coverage to give them peace of mind. It's a win-win, opening up a new way for boaters to travel.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
It's been a journey of discovery. We were inspired by the story of Airbnb's humble beginnings and their market's perceived limits. Our path has been similar. We started with a simple goal to increase dock availability but ended up creating a new market in boating travel. It's been incredibly rewarding to see how our efforts will broadened the horizons for boaters.
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Starting out, we hit a real challenge as women in the tech world, especially noticeable when we debuted dockaboat at the FLIBS. Let's be honest, tech is still a guy's game in many ways, and we definitely raised some eyebrows - like: "You two are running this?". It wasn't just about getting our app out there, but also smashing some old stereotypes about who 'should' be in tech.
Sure, it was tough facing those biases and sometimes feeling like we had to prove ourselves twice as much. But, every skeptical look we turned around felt like a win, not just for dockaboat, but for all the women pushing into tech.
Any bits of advice for entrepreneurs getting started in this space?
For those starting in this space, our advice is straightforward: begin. Starting can be the toughest step, but the journey, with all its highs and lows, is deeply rewarding. It's about taking that first step and embracing the adventure that follows.
What's the plan for the future of the business? Where do you see the company in 3-5 years?
In the next few years, we're really setting our sights on making dockaboat the go-to name for anyone hitting the water. With more people buying boats, thanks to easier travel and better docking options, we're all about riding that wave. Helping the boating economy as a whole. Our plan? To turn dockaboat into this super handy hub for boaters, not just here in the USA but also making a splash in Europe and Australia.
Imagine having a one-stop app where you can find a dock spot anywhere, anytime – that's where we're headed. In 3-5 years, we're aiming to be the name boaters think of first for hassle-free, borderless boating adventures.